San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Limón Roots Festival Celebrates Black Culture

            Backed by a calypso band, a reggae singer and Miss Limón Roots 2010, Ramiro Crawford introduced this year’s Limón Roots festival with some flair.

            At a press conference last week, Crawford treated a group of reporters to a festival preview. Calypso trio Yes a Man sang a classic number called “Matilda.” Michael Livingston performed his own reggae song. Miss Limón Roots 2010 Jazline Farley posed in a yellow dress for photographers.

            “Our festival aims to seek recognition for all the contributions black people have made to the development of this country … and also to promote and rescue black cultural traditions,” Crawford said.

            The annual festival celebrating black culture in Costa Rica revolves around Aug. 31, Black Culture Day. An inauguration event was held Wednesday, but the official start of the festival is set for today at 7:30 p.m. in the Melico Salazar Theater, where the Limón Roots Awards will recognize black achievements in Costa Rica. Other highlights will include performances by New York City-based gospel group The Roy Prescod Chorale, Senegalese percussion and dance group Kali Bamba N’diaye and the Costa Rican choir Caribbean Angelical Melodies, accompanied by the Limón National Band.

President Laura Chinchilla has confirmed her attendance at the event, Crawford said.

            The next big event of the festival will be the annual Aug. 31 gala parade through the streets of Limón on the Caribbean coast. An Intergenerational Afro-Costa Rican Meeting is planned in Limón for September, and a cultural gathering in the northeastern San José suburb of Guadalupe will close the festival on Oct. 12, Cultures Day in Costa Rica.

            This is a special year for the festival, Crawford said, because it’s the 30th anniversary of Black Culture Day in Costa Rica.

            It also marks the 100th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s arrival in the country. Garvey, the national hero of Jamaica, founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the Black Star Line shipping company in the Caribbean port city of Limón.

            It’s important we recognize that limonenses “are good at what they do,” Crawford said, “not only in Caribbean food, not only in calypso dance. We also have great professionals, scientists and businesspeople.”

            As the conference came to a close, Yes a Man reminded reporters about Limón and what they love about it. The group sang the calypso chorus: “Nowhere like Limón; Limón is the land of freedom.”

            To view the festival’s full schedule, visit To watch a video of Yes a Man and Michael Livingston, see The Tico Times’ blog at

–Matt Levin

Contact Matt Levin at

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